Gnomeo and Juliet (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/02/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 84 mins

Entertaining animated comedy that succeeds thanks to a witty script, a decent gag rate and terrific voice performances from an impressive cast.

What's it all about?
Directed by Kelly Asbury, Gnomeo & Juliet is loosely based on - yes! - Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (enough for Shakespeare to get a writer's credit, anyway) and set in neighbouring suburban gardens in Stratford-Upon-Avon, one owned by Mr Capulet (Richard Wilson), who favours red-hatted gnomes, and the other by Miss Montague (Julie Walters), whose gnomes all have blue hats. Just as the neighbours hate each other, so too do the gnomes, who engage in vicious rivalry whenever the humans aren't looking (so a bit like Toy Story), with angry Tybalt (Jason Statham) and pint-sized Benny (Matt Lucas) being the chief antagonists.

One night, blue-hatted Gnomeo (James McAvoy) spots a foxy ninja-type trying to steal a beautiful orchid and when he gives chase some flirty fighting ensues, only for the would-be thief to be revealed as feisty red-hatted Juliet (Emily Blunt). Regardless of the ongoing red vs blue feud the pair fall hopelessly in love and make secret plans to be together, aided by frog-shaped hose ornament Nenette (Ashley Jensen) and forgotten flamingo Featherstone (Jim Cummings).

The Good
The vocal performances are excellent, particularly Emily Blunt, who's charming and funny throughout and displays impressive comic timing. McAvoy is equally good and there's strong support from Statham (it's a treat to see his usual growling put to such good use), Jensen and an array of British talent that includes Michael Caine (as Juliet's dad), Maggie Smith (as Gnomeo's mum), Stephen Merchant (as Juliet's bespectacled would-be suitor Paris), Ozzy Osbourne (as Tybalt's reindeer confidante) and Patrick Stewart as a statue of William Shakespeare.

The witty script achieves a pretty decent gag rate and pulls off some amusing word play, particularly in the first half of the script (e.g. ripping off the famous balcony speech); there are also some more subtle throwaway gags, such as a brief Brokeback Mountain reference and a great joke involving a meowing website. In addition, the animation is appealing and the action sequences are exciting and well staged.

The Bad
That said, the pacing drags considerably in the middle section and the frequent pauses for shoe-horned-in songs by co-producer Elton John get a little tiresome.

Worth seeing?
Gnomeo and Juliet is an enjoyable animated adventure with likeable characters and enough decent jokes to keep both kids and dragged-along adults entertained. Matthew Turner

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Content updated: 19/05/2019 18:03

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